Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ton Sai Beach, Thailand

Ton Sai Beach, Krabi is a climbers retreat. Travellers not tourists descend on this small stretch of sand, their mentality different. From around the world they come, all sharing the same passion. I am not a climber but I feel comfortable here.

As I sit on a deck chair, feet playing in the morning sand I take in the entirety of this place. It is 7am and the monkeys own the cliffs enjoying this sought after spot in the cool of the morning, rumbling with each other. At 8am they lend the rocks to the climbers who have an abundance of choice negotiating themselves up the cliffs. The climbers are brown and tanned, all fit and healthy. They are European, American, South American and Asian. If they are not climbing they talk climbing.

Ton Sai Beach is a beautiful part of the world. Sitting on my chair I watch the campers arise, stretching out the sleep of the night, contemplating the day. The ocean is inviting with shades of green and blue. The water clear. A lone swimmer owns this part of the ocean doing laps along the beach. In the distance the horizon is painted with other islands.

I smell the morning smells, spices cooking breakfast, a hint of burnt fuel from a distant long boat. Most boats are still at this hour. They sit on the beach waiting for the day to start. A small Thai flag flies on each boat, flapping in the morning wind. The air is fresh and the sky is blue. I sit in the shade of the cliffs above, under a tree a few metres from the water. Miniature waves crash the shore; a relaxing repetition. I look up at the cliffs to my left, orange and grey, stalagmites hanging down and I feel inspired. I don’t want to leave.

The food is cheap and delicious. Tom Yum, Pad Thai, Green Curry. Sitting on the deck chair down wind from the food stands means an early lunch. Always spoiled for choice it is often the hardest decision of the day.

As the day grows the sun pears over the cliffs above hitting the sand below. The climbers call it a day and the sunbathers emerge. The water is warm and clear however a little rocky underneath. This is not the best beach of the area. That honour probably goes to West Railay Beach, a ten minute walk over and around rocks from Ton Sai. That is a beach of tourists and the vibe and body shape changes significantly between the two.

There are no ATM’s on Ton Sai and the accommodation is primarily for the budget traveller. There are options on the beach but most accommodation is 100 metres back. Many bungalows have no electricity in the day. Most toilets don’t have flushes; self flushing with small buckets of water the alternative. The beach is lined with bars, many basic made of rattan and bamboo. The bars are open to the world, no walls in the way. Hammocks and cushions the furniture of choice. They fill at night where tanned locals perform fire shows, Bob Marley blares and travellers chat about their day, planning tomorrow. All of a sudden everyone looks up. A base jumper leaps off the cliff above, reaching the ground in seconds, to cheers and applause.

I sit on the beach at peace, feeling lucky and content. With a cool breeze on my face I think to myself that this has to be my perfect beach holiday.

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